Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Sara Bella Upcycled
Review and Giveaway

What happens to the 1 trillion single-use plastic bags that are used worldwide each year? While some are reused, most end up in landfills or become litter that gets entangled in trees, chokes animals who are tempted to ingest them, or floats off in waterways, often suffocating or poisoning sea creatures. And plastic bags can take up to a thousand years to decompose—still leaving behind toxic particles, even after they break down.

Think about it: About a million plastic bags are used every minute. In the US, some states, like New York, enable consumers to recycle plastic bags, including frozen food bags. Here in the city where I live, plastic shopping bags have been banned, but a plastic bag ban merely shifts production to paper bags and compostable bags, both of which also have dire environmental consequences. And even with the plastic shopping bag ban in my city, we have no recycling method for frozen food bags, so they continue to make their way into landfills and cause devastating harm to animals. According to the International Animal Rescue Foundation, the damage plastic bags cause to wildlife is catastrophic:

Plastic bags are made of polyethylene and polyethylene is a petroleum product. When animals consume such plastic bags they are then poisoned by the chemicals within that bag as it passes through the animals digestive system or they simply choke to death. In many case animals stomachs and intestines become so clogged with plastic bag waste that many die just from this complaint. Plastic bags are often mistaken as food by marine mammals such as turtles that believe a floating bag is prey such as jelly fish. 100,000 marine mammals die yearly by eating plastic bags.

Sea Turtle mistaking a plastic bag for a jellyfish. Photo credit: ©npwsnorthernmarine
A cultural shift away from the use-and-toss culture is the better solution. A single reusable bag can eliminate hundreds (if not thousands) of plastic bags. One enterprising entrepreneur combines art and ingenuity to tackle the problem head-on. Artist/designer Sara Weiner "rescues" plastic bags and banners and turns them into functional upcycled products that are as beautiful as they are green.  At her Bend, Oregon studio, she creates colorful handbags, totes, wine carriers, wallets, zip pouches, bibs, purses, messenger bags, and even very cool fashion wear from plastic bags and banners that otherwise would have contributed to the plastic-bag crisis.

Upcycled Designer Trench Coat Photo Credit: Tambi Lane
You can feel truly wonderful about purchasing something lovely from Sara Bella Upcycled for yourself or someone you love, because 95% of every item is made with upcycled plastic. And the process for making all of Sara Bella Upcycled’s products is marvelously low-tech. They turn recycled plastic bags into "fabric" by fusing the bags together in layers. Feeling creative? You can even make your own upcycled fabric with the simple instructions you'll find on Sara Bella Upcycled's website or if you're in Bend, you can take a fun two-hour class and learn how to fuse plastic bags to create beautiful material!

As an artist, I deeply appreciate the creativity that goes into each and every Sara Bella Upcycled design. All of the products are fun and fashionable, and no two are alike. I got myself a Veggie Box Tote, and I am thoroughly delighted with not only its beauty and functionality, but its durability. So many of my reusable shopping bags have fallen apart quickly. Recently, one of the handles on my favorite Whole Foods bag fell apart right in the middle of the parking lot, as I was carrying my groceries from the store to my car. I thought that kind of thing only happened with the handles on paper grocery bags. I wasn't expecting to have to scramble under cars on all fours retrieving cans of tomatoes and garbanzo beans in the rain. Now I feel not only colorful and classy, but safe and secure strutting down grocery store and parking lot aisles with my new Veggie Box Tote!

Sara Bella Upcycled’s Veggie and Fruity Box Totes are the perfect size for my Saturday farmer's market haul! They are smaller than the large totes, but they are roomy enough for a bounty of delicious goodness!


Here's another view. You may notice that the Fruity Box Tote is empty, and if you look closely, you can see the tag still attached to one of the handles inside the bag. That's because I'm giving it away to one lucky reader! And that reader could be YOU!


Simply visit Sarabella's website, have fun browsing around and looking at all the pretty things, and then leave a comment below telling me which item(s) you find most intriguing. (Me? I'd LOVE one of those pretty aprons featured in the flash on the home page!) I'll select one winner at random to receive the lovely new Fruity Box Tote pictured above! As always, follow the Rafflecopter comment prompt to enter the giveaway, and if you want to increase your chances of winning with  additional entries, you can follow any or all of the other prompts, too.* Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more information about Sara Bella Upcycled and to peruse all the pretty things, visit their retail store and workshop in Bend's Maker's District at: 1234 NE 1st Street or visit their website.

*Sorry, international readers. The giveaway is open only to readers with a US postal address.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Plant Power Review and Giveaway

I am a Nava Atlas fan. I own, love, and have reviewed two of her earlier books, Wild About Greens and Vegan Holiday Kitchen. I'm also honored to be a contributor on her wonderful website, VegKitchen. Her latest book, Plant Power: Transform Your Kitchen, Plate, and Life with More Than 150 Fresh and Flavorful Vegan Recipes is destined to become a vegan classic. With jaw-droppingly exquisite photos from gifted vegan food photographer, Hannah Kaminsky, readers will have a tough time deciding which vibrantly colorful recipe to make first.


Whenever I crack open a new cookbook, I find it hard to choose which recipe to make first. I'm so excited, I want to try them all! This time, my bountiful harvest of apples decided for me, and I've been enjoying lots of Green Smoothies with Banana and Apple for breakfast. It's such a naturally light, sweetly delicious, and nutritious way to start the day. And it's such a lovely shade of green!


Serendipity is when you're thumbing through the pages of a new cookbook, land on a photo that whets your appetite so strongly your tummy starts to growl, and you find that you have ALL of the ingredients on hand to make it! That's exactly what happened when I eyed Hannah's gorgeous photo of Nava's Chickpea and Kale Sandwich Spread. While my photo doesn't come close to capturing the recipe in all of its lusciousness, I can honestly say that after eating this sandwich, every time I look at my own photo I start to salivate a little. With every bite, a savory combination of curry, cumin, mustard, and dill danced deliciously together in my mouth.


It's a challenge getting my husband, Mark to consume enough food to ensure that he's eating enough calories. Fortunately, he loves pizza and pasta. (Good for his waistline, not so much for mine.) More and more I've been cooking without oil, preferring to eat my fats in their whole-food form. So I really appreciate that Nava gives readers the option of sautéeing with oil, vegetable broth, or water, and gives the appropriate measurement for each. I joyfully dug into her recipe for Pasta with Hearty Lentil and Spinach Sauce (choosing the vegetable broth method). Served with a side salad and toasted ciabatta, this peasant-inspired meal was molto buono, and Mark eagerly asked for a second helping!


Crumbled tempeh and chopped walnuts seasoned with chile and sweet paprika are at the heart of these scrumptious Tempeh and Walnut Soft Tacos. Their meaty texture and picante flavor will delight ominivores and vegans alike. We enjoyed this dish accompanied by Nava's Southwestern Flavored Kale Salad with tomatoes, avocado, red bell pepper, and corn topped with a creamy Cilantro-Lime Dressing.


I'm a sucker for Asian sweet and sour dishes, and the recipe I'm most anxious to try next is the Sweet-and-Sour Stir-Fried Vegetables with Seitan or Tempeh. I'm sharing Hannah's gorgeous photo along with Nava's recipe below, so we can all try it together. If you make it, please let me know what you think!

The recipe for Sweet-and-Sour Stir-Fried Vegetables with Seitan or Tempeh by Nava Atlas ©2014 is reprinted with the kind permission of HarperOne. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky.


This sweet-and-sour stir-fry, featuring high-protein seitan or tempeh along with colorful vegetables and pineapple, has several steps but can be made easily and at a leisurely pace. Best of all, it results in a delicious and nourishing meal. This is especially good served over bean-thread noodles or Asian brown rice vermicelli, but soba or udon work well, too. Long-grain brown rice and brown basmati rice are good choices as well. Serves 6.

1 tablespoon safflower or other high-heat oil, or 1/4 cup vegetable broth or water
1 pound seitan, cut into bite-size chunks, or one 8-ounce package tempeh, diced
1 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large broccoli crowns, cut into bite-size pieces
2 medium red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium zucchini or yellow squash, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 medium ripe fresh tomatoes, diced
2 cups fresh pineapple chunks (about 3/4 inch thick) or one 20-ounce can unsweetened pineapple chunks in juice, drained and liquid reserved
Sweet-and-Sour Sauce (recipe below)
Hot cooked rice, quinoa, or noodles

Optional Toppings:
Chopped cashews or walnuts
Reduced-sodium natural soy sauce or tamari
Sriracha or other Asian hot sauce

Heat half the oil, broth, or water in a stir-fry pan or wok. Add the seitan or tempeh and stir-fry over medium-high heat until lightly browned, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Heat the remaining oil, broth, or water in the pan. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until golden. Turn up the heat; add the garlic, broccoli, and bell peppers and stir-fry for 5 minutes.

Stir in the zucchini and stir-fry just until everything is tender-crisp, about 2 minutes longer, then stir in the tomatoes and pineapple chunks.

Stir in the sauce and cook until it thickens. Taste and adjust the sweet-sour balance with more agave and/or vinegar (as called for in the sauce recipe) to your liking.

Serve at once over hot cooked grains or noodles. Pass around any of the optional items for topping individual portions.

Sauce: (Makes 1½ cups)
½ cup fruit juice (pineapple juice works best — use reserved juice from canned 
pineapple if using; mango juice or nectar is good, too)
2½ tablespoons arrowroot or cornstarch
½ cup vegetable broth or water
¼ cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium natural soy sauce or tamari, or to taste
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 to 2 teaspoons grated fresh or jarred ginger


Combine the fruit juice with the arrowroot in a mixing bowl and stir until dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk together.

Note: Why a pound of seitan but just 8 ounces of tempeh? Seitan is more moist and less dense; a pound of tempeh would be quite intense in this dish. But if you’re a big fan of tempeh and want a higher-protein dish, go for it—use two 8-ounce packages.

Nutrition information:
 Per serving with seitan: Calories: 264; Total fat: 7g; Protein: 22g; Carbohydrates: 32g; Fiber: 4g; Sodium: 516mg
Per serving with tempeh: Calories: 237; Total fat: 9g; Protein: 10g; Carbohydrates: 34g; Fiber: 6g; Sodium: 237mg

If you want to transform your kitchen, your plate, and your life with fresh and flavorful vegan recipes you'll want to enjoy over and over again, Plant Power is the perfect book for you! Along with more than 150 delectable recipes, you'll find a guide to the benefits of a plant-powered life, nutrition basics, meal-planning strategies, and much more. And now you can win a copy of Plant Power for yourself or someone you love. Simply leave a comment below, and then follow the prompt in the Rafflecopter box! (This step is required for entry.) After you leave a comment, you can earn additional entries by following any or all of the other Rafflecopter options. I'll be selecting one lucky winner at random.* Good luck!

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*Giveaway is open only to readers with US and Canadian postal addresses.
Note: This post contains affiliate links. If the product is purchased by linking through this review, I receive a modest commission. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The HappyCow Cookbook
Review and Giveaway

With vegan eateries springing up everywhere (hello Omaha!), living and traveling as a vegan has gotten so much easier and lots more fun. A quick visit to the HappyCow website will point the way to veg restaurants from Milan to Minsk—complete with reviews from diners. And with the release of The HappyCow Cookbook, now you can take your vegan palate around the world right from the comfort of your very own kitchen! I was excited to find recipes from some of my most favorite vegan eateries like Café Blossom and Hangawi in New York City and Real Food Daily in Los Angeles. Even more exciting was the opportunity to sample fare from restaurants I have always wanted to visit but haven't had the chance to, like Vertical Diner in Salt Lake City and Ain. Soph Ginza in Tokyo.


Here in Eugene, OR, we've got our very own famous vegan restaurant, the Cornbread Cafe, which has the distinction of being the very first vegan restaurant to be featured on The Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives! I've been a fan of Cornbread Cafe's down-home, delectable vegan comfort food since it first opened as a food cart downtown on Oak Street.


It wasn't very long before Cornbread Cafe evolved from its humble beginnings as a food cart to a colorful, full-service restaurant complete with comfy diner-style booths and lunch counter. When friends visit from out of town, I can't wait to take them to Cornbread Cafe to experience the decadently delicious Eugenewich. Take a peek at my very own personal Cornbread Cafe photo gallery. Look closely—you may even see someone you know!


Cornbread Cafe is renowned for its incredible Eugenewich, pictured below. Also shown are several of its fabulous side dishes: (clockwise from top left to right) Mac Uncheese, Uncle Todd's Greens, Sassy Slaw, and just visible all the way over on the left is a hunk of my favorite side— Cornbread Cafe's scrumptious namesake cornbread.


To put it mildly, I'm cuckoo for Cornbread Cafe's signature cornbread. So when I flipped through the pages of  The HappyCow Cookbook and found the recipe for Skillet Cornbread along with recipes for the cafe's crispy-good Chicken Fried Tempeh and impossibly thin and delicious Tofu Omelet Sheets, I just about flipped! (I also just about kicked myself in the pants for recently getting rid of my cast-iron skillet.) But I made the cornbread in a muffin pan instead of a skillet, and it came out gorgeously golden and tasted every bit as delicious as the cornbread I've enjoyed so many times at the restaurant. With just a schmear of strawberry jam on my cornbread muffin...WOW! What a treat!


Following is the recipe for Cornbread Cafe's Skillet Cornbread reprinted with the kind permission of BenBella Books. A couple of notes: I avoid products containing palm oil, so I used vegetable oil instead of EB to grease the pan. And because I used a muffin pan instead of a cast-iron skillet, the cornbread was fully baked in only 17 minutes. (Be sure to use a toothpick to test your batch.)

Cornbread Cafe Skillet Cornbread
Serves 6–10

1 to 2 tablespoons Earth Balance butter substitute (I used vegetable oil)
1 cup cornmeal (medium ground)
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1⁄2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup soy or rice milk
1⁄3 cup oil
Egg replacer for 2 eggs (follow directions on box)

For the topping (optional):
Earth Balance butter substitute (I opted for strawberry jam)
Agave syrup 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put 1 or 2 tablespoons Earth Balance butter substitute (or other vegan margarine) into a 9" cast-iron skillet and put in the heated oven for about 10 minutes.

Add together the dry ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl and whisk together, combining thoroughly.

Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together all the wet ingredients (soy or rice milk through egg
replacer). Add wet ingredients to dry and mix well, just until all of the dry mixture is incorporated with the wet. Some small lumps are okay.

Remove skillet from oven and coat bottom and sides with the melted Earth Balance. Pour (or scrape)
batter into skillet, spreading evenly with rubber spatula. Bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes in
the middle of the center rack. Test the center of corn bread with a toothpick after 20 minutes. When the toothpick comes out clean without crumbs sticking to it, the corn bread is done. Let it cool for a few minutes and, if desired, serve with Earth Balance and agave syrup.

If you'd like to take your taste buds on a tasty trip around the world, get yourself a copy of The HappyCow Cookbook. You'll soon be enjoying dishes like the Pistachio-Crusted Eggplant Napoleons from Millenium in San Francisco and Red Curry Tempeh Tempura from Veggies on Fire in the Netherlands. And now you can win a copy of The HappyCow Cookbook just by leaving a comment below and following the prompt in the Rafflecopter box! (This step is required for entry.) After you leave a comment, you can earn additional entries by following any or all of the other Rafflecopter options. I'll be selecting one lucky winner at random.* Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada.
Note: This post contains affiliate links. If the product is purchased by linking through this review, I receive a modest commission.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Salad Samurai
Review and Giveaway

We eat lots of salads at our house, especially in the summertime. And while most people think of salad as a rather uninspired dish to be served "on the side," (or worse, as a chilled vehicle for consuming tuna, chicken, shrimp, or eggs), the artfully crafted plant-based culinary creations you'll find in Salad Samurai: 100 Cutting-Edge, Ultra-Hearty, Easy-To-Make Salads You Don't Have To Be Vegan To Love will lay any such notions to rest. Made with a variety of vibrantly delicious whole-food ingredients, sumptuous dressings, and a cornucopia of tasty toppings, award-winning chef Terry Hope Romero elevates the art of salad making to soaring heights of satiety and yum. No longer will salads be relegated to the lowly side dish. Within the pages of Salad Samurai you'll find entrée-sized salads that will satisfy your hunger for a meal that is healthy, hearty, and delicious.


When you get the book into your hot little hands, do take the time to savor the spectacular, full-color photos. Because I flipped through all 180 pages just before bedtime one night, I found myself dreaming about Terry's Tempeh Reubenesque Salad and her Bacon, Kale, Tomato Bowl. And while my photos may not do justice to the recipes, here is my rendition of the BKT. This luscious concoction of kale, avocado, red onions, tomatoes, Tempeh Bacon Bites, and Coconut Bacony Bits (recipes included in the book!) in a tangy maple-Dijon vinaigrette was extremely filling and made my taste buds very happy.


Tip: It doesn't hurt to make friends with the nice people working in the produce department at your local store. Case in point: I was asking one of the produce managers at my neighborhood supermarket if he would be willing to mark down some organic bananas that had brown spots on them, which he was happy to do. Just then, a co-worker walked by, overheard our conversation, and asked me if I would like some super sweet organic corn he was about to mark down to 3 for $1. (Yes, please! I'll take them all!) That was not only lucky, but serendipitous, because I was planning to make the recipe for Mexican Roasted Corn Salad with Avocado (aka Esquites) from Salad Samurai that very evening and just hadn't gotten around to picking out the corn yet!


I am crazy for super sweet, organic, fresh corn, and I could eat this twist on the classic Mexican dish, every day. (Given my fondness for Mexican food, art, and culture, I swear I must have lived in Mexico in a previous life.) A medley of avocados, cilantro, tomatoes, chilé pepper, and corn (still warm from roasting!), are bathed in a creamy, cashew-lime dressing. I'm pretty sure this must be what paradise tastes like. Make sure to scroll down, and grab the recipe, because it is that sensational!


The following recipe for Mexican Roasted Corn Salad with Avocado (Esquites) is from Salad Samurai by Terry Hope Romero ©2014. Reprinted with the kind permission of Da Capo Lifelong Books.

Serves: 3 to 4

Creamy Lime Dressing
½ cup unroasted cashews 
½ cup hot water 
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice 
1 teaspoon olive oil or coconut oil 
1 clove garlic, peeled 
2 teaspoons white (shiro) miso

Corn Salad
4 ears of corn, husks and corn silk removed 
Olive oil 
½ cup lightly packed, chopped fresh cilantro 
2 scallions, green part only, thinly sliced 
1 green or red jalapeño pepper, roasted or fresh, seeded and minced 
1 ripe avocado, diced 
1 big red ripe tomato, cored and diced 
2 teaspoons chili powder (preferably Mexican, such as ancho or chipotle) 
Lime wedges, for garnish
 
Make the dressing first. Soak the cashews in the hot water for 30 minutes, then pulse the cashews and soaking water in a blender until smooth. Add the remaining dressing ingredients, pulse until silky, then chill until ready to use.

Preheat a cast-iron grill pan over medium-high heat. Rub the ears of corn with olive oil and grill each ear until the kernels are lightly charred, turning the cobs occasionally, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer them from the pan to a cutting board and cool just enough to handle. Use a sharp knife with a thin blade to slice the corn kernels from the cob; for best results (and to prevent kernels from taking flight), slice a few rows off an ear, lay it flat on the cutting board, then slice off the remaining corn. Always keep one side of the ear flat on the cutting board.

Transfer the corn to a big mixing bowl. Add the cilantro, scallions, and jalapeño. Drizzle on the dressing and toss to combine. Transfer the salad to serving dishes. Top each serving with diced avocado and tomato and sprinkle each serving with chili powder. Serve immediately with lime wedges for squeezing over the salad while the corn is still warm!

Want to be the master or mistress of your salad-making domain? Get your hands on a copy of Salad Samurai! Want to win your very own copy? Simply leave a comment below, and then follow the prompt in the Rafflecopter box.* After you leave your comment, you can earn additional entries by following any or all of the other Rafflecopter options. I'll be selecting one lucky winner at random. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
*Sorry international friends. The giveaway is open only to readers with US postal addresses.
 Note: This post contains affiliate links. If the product is purchased by linking through this review, I receive a modest commission.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Electric Green Smoothie Recipe and
a Delicious Giveaway!

When Allison Rivers Samson's new video went live online, I couldn't wait to make my very own Brazil nut milk. It looked so simple and fun! I often make my own cashew nut milk, but I hadn't tried making milk with Brazil nuts. WOW! It is truly creamy, rich, and delicious! I was completely hooked after taking my first sip, and once you try it, you'll fall in love, too!


Such heavenly milk inspired me to create a new smoothie recipe with my favorite organic matcha powder. I feel utterly energized when I start my day with it. And I feel divinely decadent enjoying something that tastes like dessert for breakfast and savoring it slowly through my beautiful, environmentally friendly Glass Dharma straw.


1 1/2 cups Allison's Brazil Nut Milk (you can substitute soy milk if you have a nut allergy)
1 teaspoon Kiss Me Organics Matcha Powder
1 very ripe banana
2 medjool dates, pits and stems removed
1 tablespoon chia seeds
2 drops liquid vanilla stevia (optional)

Blend all together, pour into a tall glass, and enjoy!

As a special treat just for Hungry Vegan readers, here's an exclusive coupon code you can use for 20% off your purchase of Kiss Me Organics Matcha Powder on Amazon.com until September 7th:

In the US, please use this code: 2YMPWMC8
Canadian readers, please use this one: SQ7FNCPB


And now for a delicious giveaway!* Share your favorite smoothie secret with me in a comment below for a chance to win a package of Kiss Me Organics Matcha Powder and a $25.00 gift code from Glass Dharma!** Then follow the Rafflecopter prompts for more chances to win! Good luck! 

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*Prize package valued at $50.00.
**This giveaway is open to both U.S. and Canadian  residents.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Vegan Chocolate
Review and Giveaway

Vegan Chocolate—the two sweetest words in the English language and the title of pastry chef extraordinaire Fran Costigan's latest book. Within the pages of this gorgeous, museum-quality, hardbound edition you'll find nothing less than the fulfillment of all of your chocolate dreams.


Do you dream of decadently delicious chocolate creams, puddings, truffles, cakes, cookies, pies, tarts, or frozen desserts? With recipes like Intensely Chocolate Trifle, Chocolate Pecan Cranberry Coffee Cake, Chocolate Pecan Pie, Chocolate Coconut Whipped Cream, and White Chocolate Mousse, Chef Fran has got you covered! I flipped when I read the recipes for chocolate eclairs, blackout cake, and gelato! (Now that's what I'm talking about!) And with so many enormously helpful tips on techniques, sweeteners, and yes—choosing the perfect chocolate for your recipe, you'll feel like Fran is standing right beside you in the kitchen.

I received my copy of Vegan Chocolate just in time for Passover and couldn't wait to make Fran's Dukkah-Spiced Chocolate-Covered Matzoh. What's dukkah? It's a fun-sounding word and a lovely Middle Eastern blend of nuts and spices. The result: savory, salty, spicy, and sweet flavors all dancing together deliciously atop a chocolate ganache-covered matzoh!


My husband thinks that the Almost Instant Chocolate Pudding tastes just like the Jello Instant Pudding he loved eating as a kid. I think it tastes like creamy brownies. He said that's the same thing. You'll say "WOW!" when you taste this dreamy creamy treat.


With almost a dozen tantalizing recipes for chocolate truffles in Vegan Chocolate, the challenge was deciding which one to make first. Since I adore chai, I honed in on Chai-Spiced Truffles. These melt-in-your-mouth cocoa confections were heavenly.


If you want to treat yourself or your favorite chocolate lover to a spectacular gift, indulge all of your chocolate fantasies, or just tease yourself silly with the exquisite photos in this book, don't wait another second to get a copy of Vegan Chocolate! Until your copy arrives, here's a little nibble of what you'll find inside. The recipe for Very Fudgy Chocolate Chip Brownies from Vegan Chocolate ©2013 by Fran Costigan is reprinted with the kind permission of Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group. And if you're feeling lucky (and even if you're not—someone is going to win, and it could be you!), scroll down to the bottom of the post, leave a comment below, and then follow the Rafflecopter prompts to enter to win a copy!* Your comment is the only mandatory entry requirement, and you'll earn 10 easy entries with just one little comment! To earn additional entries, you can also follow any or all of the other steps. Good luck!

Photo credit: Kate Lewis
Very Fudgy Chocolate Chip Brownies

You’ll get plenty of “brownie points” for these soft, fudgy, and rich chocolate treats studded with chocolate chunks or chips. Walnuts add crunch and cut the sweetness, but if you like a brownie unencumbered by nuts, just say no to this option. No matter what you prefer, these brownies will stay fudgy when frozen, making them the perfect cake for ice cream sandwiches or any of the frozen desserts in chapter 8. Make a Blow Them Away Brownie Sundae or just dip into some of the Thick Fudge Sauce. Just watch out: These brownies are not low fat or low sugar—a small square should satisfy. Note: If using coconut oil as the fat, make sure the other ingredients are at room temperature, or the oil will harden into clumps.

Makes one 8 x 8-inch / 20 x 20-cm square pan

Ingredients:
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon/73 grams organic all-purpose flour
½ cup/70 grams organic whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup/58 grams Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ cup minus 1 tablespoon/98 grams organic granulated sugar
¼ cup/38 grams organic whole cane sugar, ground in a blender until powdered
2 tablespoons/12 grams arrowroot or organic cornstarch (14 grams)
1 teaspoon/5 grams aluminum-free baking powder
½ teaspoon/2.5 grams fine sea salt
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons / 90 ml mild tasting extra-virgin olive oil or an organic neutral vegetable oil
½ cup/20 ml pure maple syrup, Grade B or dark amber
¼ cup/60 ml any nondairy milk
2 teaspoons/10 ml pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon chocolate extract (optional)
Heaping ½cup/85 grams vegan chocolate chips or mini chunks
1/3 cup/43 grams lightly toasted walnuts or mixed nuts, coarsely chopped (optional)

Directions:
1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350˚F / 180˚C. Oil an 8 x 8-inch / 20 x 20-cm square pan and then line the bottom with parchment paper. Do not oil the paper.
2. Place a wire mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Add the all-purpose flour, pastry flour, cocoa, granulated sugar, whole cane sugar, arrowroot or cornstarch, baking powder, and salt to the strainer and stir with a whisk to sift the ingredients into the bowl. (If any small bits remain in the strainer, add them to the mixture in the bowl.) Whisk to aerate the mixture.
3. Whisk the oil, maple syrup, nondairy milk, vanilla and chocolate extract, if using, in a separate medium bowl until completely combined. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix with a silicone spatula until the batter, which will be thick, is smooth. Allow the batter to rest for ten minutes.
4. Stir the chocolate chips and nuts, if using, into the batter. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, and spread into an even layer with a metal spatula.
5. Bake for 23 minutes until the top is set and dry and the sides have pulled just slightly away from the pan.
6. Remove the pan from the oven and set on a cooling rack. Immediately insert a wooden tester diagonally into the brownies. The tester will be coated with batter, but not wet. If necessary, bake another minute.
7. Cool to room temperature. The middle of the cake will sink as it cools; don’t worry. Once cold you can push the sides down to level the cake if you like. Refrigerate until very cold before cutting into squares.

Keeping: Refrigerate the brownies in a covered container, in layers separated by parchment, for up to three days, or freeze for up to one month. Defrost unwrapped or eat straight out of the freezer.

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*Sorry international friends, this giveaway is open only to U.S. residents.   

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

OATrageous Oatmeals? You Betcha!
And How About a Pre-Release Giveaway!?!

I have literally been waiting for more than five years for Kathy Hester to come out with an oatmeal book. I mean, she comes up with oatmeal recipes that are truly oat-rageous. She can turn a simple breakfast food into gourmet fare and somehow manages to come up with seemingly endless oaty variations. Irish Cream Oat Pancakes, Pear Rose Cardamom Cake Oatmeal, and Coconut Banana Pecan Coffee Cake Oatmeal are just a few of the yummalicious recipes that have made me swoon.


Kathy used to post a new oatmeal recipe to her blog every day. And I would wake up each morning with unbridled giddiness, looking forward to every new recipe she'd create. Now that her oatmeal book is finally here (well, almost here—you can pre-order it now at amazon.com), I feel an overwhelming sense of excitement and anticipation all over again.

I had a chance to preview a pre-release copy of OATrageous Oatmeals: Delicious and Surprising Plant-Based Dishes From the Humble, Heart-Healthy Grain, and the recipes in this book are out-of-this-world fabulous! With offerings like Cashew-Oat Cream Cheese, Southern-Style Oat Biscuits, Butternut Squash Maple Walnut Scones, Pomegranate Rose Smoothies, Curry Cashew Savory Granola, Creamy Butternut Squash Oat Soup, Eggplant Pizza Sliders (Yup! They're made with oats!), and Dreamy Dark Chocolate Oat Cream, you will never look at the humble oat quite the same way again. And yes, there are lots of recipes for morning oats, too!

Here's a sneak-peek of the deliciousness that awaits readers who get their hands on a copy of OATrageous Oatmeals. I made this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Oats last night and savored every bite of it this morning. With just the tiniest smidge of rum, it won't get you tipsy, but you may feel a bit decadent starting your day off so deliciously!

Photo credit: Kate Lewis
Blackberry Mojito Overnight Refrigerated Oats
(Copyright ©Kathy Hester 2014, reprinted with the kind permission of Page Street Publishing Company, Salem MA)

Sweet juicy blackberries soaked in bright lime and mint flavors with the faintest aroma of rum will perk you up even on the toughest mornings. You can add a teaspoon or two of chia seeds to make this extra thick.

1 cup blackberries (cut in half if large)
1/2 cup (120ml) unsweetened nondairy milk
1/2 cup (31g) rolled oats
2 Tbsp minced fresh mint or 1/4 tsp mint extract
Zest from 1/2 lime or 1/4 tsp lime oil
1/2 tsp rum or rum extract, optional
1 Tbsp agave, to taste (or your choice of sweetener, to taste)

Add all the ingredients in a mason jar or a dish with a cover. Mix well and let sit in the fridge overnight. Stir and eat. Makes 1 serving.

Per serving: Calories 255.8, protein 4.8g, total fat, 4.3g, carbohydrates 52.9g, sodium 90.0mg, fiber 10.8g

Now you can be among the very first to dig into all of the delectable recipes in OATrageous Oatmeals when it is released in September, because I'm giving away a copy to one lucky reader! To enter to win, simply leave a comment below, and then follow the Rafflecopter prompts.* Your comment is the only mandatory entry requirement. To earn additional entries, you can also follow any or all of the other steps. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Sorry international friends, this giveaway is open only to U.S. residents.